Last staged 13 months ago, AIG are again expected to sponsor the event at Fenway Park. Dublin and Galway are being touted to face off once more after their controversial clash in the city. All-Ireland champions Tipperary and Waterford are also being lined up to square off at the home of the Boston Red Sox.
Designed in part by former GPA chairman and current coach Dónal Óg Cusack, Super 11s is a variation of hurling, pitting teams of 11 players against one another over four periods of 12 minutes. It was designed to be played in venues where the pitch size is smaller than a hurling field.
Only goals, worth three points, are permitted as scores while teams are not permitted to hand-pass the ball twice in a row. The sliotar cannot be kicked, there are “tap and go” frees, and substitutions can take place without stoppages in play.
Super 11s made its debut in September 2013 at an international hurling festival in Galway before it was showcased at that year’s All-Ireland SHC replay between Clare and Cork. Shortly afterwards, it made its first appearance in the US when Leinster and Munster played in South Bend, Indiana, on the undercard of Notre Dame’s college football game with the University of South Carolina.
In August 2014, Supers 11s was part of the half-time entertainment as University of Central Florida took on Penn State in their season-opening College American Football Croke Park Classic.
Attended by almost 30,000 people, last year’s game formed part of an Irish festival in Boston. Won by Galway, the game was marred by ugly scenes which later saw both Dublin and Galway fined €5,000 by the Central Competitions Control Committee. Galway’s Iarla Tannian and Andy Smith were sin-binned and Dublin goalkeeper Conor Dooley was shown a yellow card for their part in a melee.
Croke Park’s attitude towards Super 11s is believed to be lukewarm at best. GAA director general Páraic Duffy made no reference to last year’s game in his annual report. Asked recently about the concept, GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail was non-committal: “I just don’t know anything about them. I don’t have any plans on them.”
November 2017 is already a busy month for the GAA with International Rules set for November 11 and 18.